Customer Service

Responding to a Customer Complaint About a Specific Agent

What should you do when an angry customer calls to complain about a specific customer service agent? It’s important to have a plan in place that both takes your customers seriously and is fair to your team. Here’s how to handle this kind of issue when it arises at your call center.

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Listen to the customer and gather specific details: It’s easy to get defensive or to assume the worst of your agent, but listen to the customer’s complaint and try to really understand the issue. Were they angry that the representative didn’t solve their issue, even though the agent acted in connection with company policy? Or was there a breach of customer service around tone, language, or another issue? Establish the specific concerns in detail, which will provide the basis for further investigation.

Gather objective evidence: Before speaking to the representative, look for objective evidence from the conversation. If your company records calls for customer service training, pull the tapes and listen to the call. Review any notes taken in your customer service logs. Was the customer irate or screaming? Did the rep try to resolve the issue but was unable to please the customer? Listening to the tapes and reviewing call notes can give you a more detailed impression of what might have gone wrong before you speak to the employee.

Talk to the employee directly: At some point, it is important to speak directly to the employee. When you have done your research ahead of time, it helps you to formulate an impression of what may have happened without being emotionally involved. Structure the conversation to gather the maximum information, without making your customer service representative feel defensive or targeted. Ask questions. Do they remember the call? What happened that might have upset the customer? Do they feel they could have handled anything differently? Pay attention to the specifics of what they say, as well as how they relay the information, to gather important insights on both demeanor and attitude.

Evaluate all the information in the context of past behavior: Is the customer service representative a long-term and successful employee? Or have they recently come aboard or already have a series of detailed complaints in their file? Take a closer look at the customer. Is it a critical customer for your business? Are they usually easy to work with, or do they have a history of these types of complaints? When you consider the incident within the broader context of your business, it is easier to determine what truly occurred and map a path forward in the best interests of your business, customer, and employee.

Ultimately, you’ll have to report back to the customer and take some action with the employee. Whether you offer coaching and training, let the agent know he or she has your support, or even put that employee on warning for a more serious offense, having conducted a thorough and objective investigation into the issue. This will give you more insight and authority to resolve it in the best way possible for all stakeholders. Managing a call center isn’t always easy, but digging deeper can help you see what’s behind complaints about a specific customer service agent.